The Consumer Reports Sentiment Index slimed to 48.7 in January, up from 45.1 in December and 44.1 a year ago. This is the highest level it has been at in two years, Consumer Reports said.

“Some of the rise can be attributed to the seasonal January jump, but not all of it,” said Ed Farrell, a director in the Consumer Reports National Research Center. “Overall, consumers are feeling better about their financial situation and hopefully this will translate into increased economic engagement in 2011 if this trend continues.”

Conversely, the Consumer Reports Trouble Tracker, which monitors consumers’ financial difficulties, is now at 54.2, down from 58.2 a year ago. However, this is up from 49.3 in November and 52.7 in December.

The Consumer Reports Stress Index, which gauges daily financial stress, however, is now at 55.4, down from 60.8 the previous month and 69.0 a year ago.

Consumer spending, as measured by the Consumer Reports Past 30-Day Retail Index, came in at 15.4 for December, up slightly from 14.1 last year. One of the biggest-selling categories was home electronics, with 20.8% of respondents purchasing major home electronics goods in December, up from 15.8% in December 2009.

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